I’ve often said that happiness is that little break you get in between the crises. It was especially true for me in the last few weeks. A few days after celebrating the wedding of my oldest daughter, my children and I found ourselves sitting in a hospital room for days on end wondering if our lives were about to change forever in a way we weren’t ready for.
My 79-year-old mother came down with a bad case of pneumonia which, undetected despite a trip to her doctor, blossomed into several other infections and caused some very frightening complications. When were brought her by ambulance to the hospital, my mother who days before had been strong and independent and dancing at her granddaughter’s wedding, had no idea where she was and could barely string together sentences that made even the slightest sense. My mom was so ill we feared she might never recover completely, if at all.
Suddenly, all those things I hoped I wouldn’t have to think about for years were right in front of me. If my mom never recovered, what were her end-of-life wishes? Would she ever live on her own again? Could we afford long-term care? Would I have to move into her home to take of her and how could I do that and work and go to school too? Suddenly, my mom was the child, I was the parent, and I was faced with all the grown up decisions. Even at 48, no one is ever really ready for that.
I flashed back to the days sitting by my dad’s bedside as he died of cancer and braced myself for the worst. I am an only child and the thought of being without both my parents, of being orphaned and alone in the world, has always been my greatest fear. I think that is why I had so many children of my own, so that they would never have to be afraid of being alone.
Thankfully, my mom has recovered and is looking at going home from the rehab center, and being fully independent again, very soon! This was a wake-up call for us though, as a family, to sit down and make some plans and have some hard conversations about the future. They aren’t conversations we want to have, they aren’t things we want to plan for, but it needs to be done, and now it’s time for me to step into the role I was hoping to put off a little longer.
That’s always how life goes isn’t it. We are going along, we think we’ve got it all planned out and then “bam” life hands us something we weren’t planning on, weren’t expecting, and honestly did not want! But too bad, here it is and no amount of kicking and screaming is going to fix it, so we’ve got to pick ourselves up and do what needs to be done.
Often however, those are the times that we look back on later and realize that they put us on a path more amazing than anything we would have ever found if we’d stuck to our original plan. At the time we may be thinking “why, why is this happening to me” because we just can’t see far enough ahead yet.
This weekend, I unexpectedly found myself officiating at a wedding for a friend. I hadn’t planned on doing the ceremony. I was going as a guest. However, at the last-minute, their original officiant was unable to make it, so I was asked to fill in. The story of how this bride and groom came to be is a perfect example of the philosophy that maybe, just maybe, everything does happen for a reason.
The bride and groom both grew up in Maine, just about an hour away from each other, but had never met. In fact, the groom had moved to the West Coast, with no real plans to live in Maine again anytime soon. Then a house fire, in which she lost everything, landed the bride in Downtown Bangor just about the time the groom’s job ended and he decided to head back to Bangor for a visit! Little did he know that he was driving towards his destiny, that he was soon going to meet his future wife one night in Paddy Murphy’s, and that his road trip east would be a permanent one.
See, blessings come in strange ways and when we are in the middle of those hard times we need only remember that often we’ve been thrown off our path for a reason. Something better is ahead!
Being asked to perform their ceremony was an unexpected blessing and I couldn’t help but reflect on all the unexpected blessings I’ve received lately and on the people in my life that may have never been there if not for the things that looked nothing like blessings when they originally happened!
If not for the things that happened in my life years ago, if not for being completely thrown off my path, I may have never experienced the opportunities, the adventures and the love I have in my life now! I might have never met some of the incredible people who are in my life, people that now I can’t imagine walking this path without.
I was so amazed while my mom was in the hospital, at the number of people who were there for me, every step of the way, to support our family and hold us up. And I was reminded once again, that family often has nothing to do with blood but everything to do with the people you surround yourself with, those who you love and who love you back, not because you share a last name or common DNA but because you choose to love each other, every single day! It turns out my greatest fear is unfounded, I will never be, in fact, alone in the world!
Happiness is sometimes that little break we get in between the crises of life. Breathe it in, savor it, and gather the people around you who you know will stick with you, be with you, through whatever life brings you next! And don’t be afraid when everything seems to have gone all wrong, it might just be the beginning of something beautiful!
*Photo Credit: Jeff Kirlin